||The S2H designation indicates that this motherboard is designed for stability, and offers intelligent features like Gigabyte’s Xpress BIOS Rescue and EasyTune software.
||The Micro ATX form factor is enjoying renewed popularity in enthusiast machines, thanks to the HTPC revolution.
||24.4 cm H x 24.4 cm W
||Compact Micro ATX motherboards allow PCs to fit into racks of home audio electronics.
|CPU Socket Type
||Even as new socket technologies such as AM2+ and AM3 loom on the horizon, Socket AM2 remains a viable and relatively future-proof socket. AMD seems determined not to repeat their past mistakes with prematurely discontinuing Socket 939 products.
||AMD’s Hypertransport bus offers competition-humbling memory bandwidth with an effective 2GHz link between the CPU, memory, and northbridge.
||The AMD 690G chipset consists of the RS690 northbridge (which integrates an X1250 graphics core, effectively half of a Radeon X700) and SB600 southbridge.
||The GA-MA69GM-S2H supports the full gamut of available DDR2 memory speeds. Memory voltages up to 1.8v are supported.
||DDR2 DIMM x4
||Four memory slots used to be a rarity on Micro ATX motherboards, but now it’s essentially the norm. Remember, however, that you can’t effectively use a full 4GB of memory in a 32-bit operating system.
||PCI Express X16
||This provides an excellent upgrade path from the onboard video.
||1 PCI Express x 16 slot, 1 PCI Express x 4 slot; 2 PCI slots
||The GA-MA690GM-S2H offers plenty of expandability, including an upgrade path for the onboard graphics core. SLI and Crossfire remain off-limits on Micro ATX motherboards (for now).
||Integrated Radeon X1250 core
||The integrated Radeon X1250 graphics core in the RS690 northbridge offers somewhat better 3D performance than the GeForce 6150, as well as hardware video decoding acceleration.
||AMD SB600 integrated (SATA2 3.0 GB/s; RAID 0, 1, 0+1 supported)
||The integrated SATA controller in the SB600 southbridge offers enough flexibility and throughput to support the appropriate storage schemes for an HTPC.?
||Realtek RTL8110 PHY(10/100/1000Mbit)
||There’s plenty of bandwidth here to enable quick video transfers to remote PCs, or to a central home server.
||7.1-channel HD Audio
||This board provides a variety of audio output options, including a Toslink optical digital connection and digital output on the HDMI video output port.
|Onboard Audio Controller`
||Realtek ALC 889A with DTS Connect
||Gigabyte claims this chipset is capable of delivering a 106dB SNR, which is competitive with the Creative SB Audigy/2/4 range of sound cards.
||1x ATA 133, 1x FDD
||This card supports both Dolby Digital and DTS output, for receivers and preamp/processors that support the two formats. This is useful for HTPCs, but is standard fare for most sound cards. Not all receivers or pre/pros support input at the full 192kHz rate, however.
|Rear panel I/O
||1 PS/2 keyboard port, 1 PS/2 mouse port; 1 D-Sub port, 1 DVI-D port, 1 HDMI port; 1 Optical SPDIF Out port; 1 IEEE 1394a port, 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 1 RJ-45 LAN port; 6 audio jacks (Line In / Line Out / MIC In/Surround Speaker Out (Rear Speaker Out)/Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out)
||The GA-MA69GM-S2H motherboard provides an excellent array of input/output options. Legacy serial and parallel ports have been 86’ed in favor of the trio of VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI video ports. In addition, a Toslink optical connector offers an easy connection to a home theater receiver or a multichannel speaker system with an optical digital input.
||System voltage detection, CPU / System temperature detection, CPU / System fan speed detection, CPU / System warning temperature, CPU fan failure warning, CPU Smart Fan function
||A broad array of monitoring functions are available, and the CPU fan thermal speed control is more tweakable than many others we’ve seen.
||ATX12V 2.2 compliant 24-pin power connector, 4-pin CPU power connector
||Nothing out of the ordinary here. Move along, then.
|BIOS; Other Features
||Use of licensed AWARD BIOS; PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b; Supports @BIOS; Supports Download Center; Supports Q-Flash; Supports EasyTune (only supports Hardware Monitor function); Supports Xpress Install, Xpress Recovery2, and Xpress BIOS Rescue
||Many of these additional features refer to software utility interoperability, which makes things like BIOS-flashing possible. While it’s disappointing to see that full EasyTune functionality isn’t enabled, that’s about par for the course when it comes to value-level parts.